New census data finds D.C. had nation's largest percentage drop in population The District's population decline comes after a decade of rapid growth in which D.C. saw a nearly 15% increase in population.
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New census data finds D.C. had nation's largest percentage drop in population

The District lost more than 20,000 residents between 2020 and 2021. Robb Hohmann/Flickr / https://n.pr/3yTDUFw hide caption

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Robb Hohmann/Flickr / https://n.pr/3yTDUFw

More than 20,000 residents left D.C. over the past year, according to the latest U.S. Census data. The District – and 17 states – are part of a historically large number of jurisdictions to lose population, according to the latest census report.

The District reflects a national trend of population loss or very little growth. The overall U.S. population grew by 392,665 in 2021 – just 0.1% – which is the lowest rate since it was founded in 1776. The U.S. Census Bureau attributed the overall slow rate of population growth nationally to decreased net international migration, decreased fertility, and increased mortality as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The District's population decline comes after a decade of rapid growth in which D.C. saw a nearly 15% increase in population. In contrast, D.C. saw a 2.9% decrease in the number of residents in 2021, bringing the population down to 670,050. Compared to states, the District had the largest percentage decrease in the nation, just ahead of New York, which lost 1.6% of its population, followed by Illinois, which saw a 0.9% decrease.

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The COVID-19 pandemic may also be playing a role in the District's population decline. Earlier this year, data from the U.S. Postal Service showed that more than 9,000 residents may have left D.C. permanently during the pandemic.

According to census data, the latest decline in D.C. is largely a result of more people leaving rather than arriving – either through net international migration or natural increase (the birth rate minus the death rate).

This story is from DCist.com, the local news site of WAMU.

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